Since Usman took the 170 title from Tyron Woodley in March, the expectation’s been that “Chaos” would be the new champ’s first challenge. But, Usman has been sidelined with injuries, and won’t be ready to fight until closer to the end of the year.
Well, ESPN is reporting that Covington has agreed to battle Lawler at the UFC’s August 3rd card in Newark, New Jersey. The fight isn’t reportedly signed just yet.
In a follow up statement to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Covington said this:
“UFC needed a main event on short notice, so I agreed to defend my title in my first defense against the last real champion this division has had.”
Obviously this is a very interesting and somewhat unexpected development. There had been talk that Covington could get passed over by the winner of the July 6th fight between Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren, since the accomplished wrestler hasn’t fought since last June. So, you have to wonder if that possibility was communicated to the former interim champ.
Covington (14-1) won the interim belt at UFC 225 last summer, by defeating Rafael dos Anjos via unanumous decision.
Lawler (28-13) is coming off a controversial, submission loss to Ben Askren in March. The bout was ruled a technical submission via a bulldog choke, but Lawler claims he never went out.